There are plenty of obvious lessons that take place on an EF tour. Leaving home for one of the first times. Stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new culture. Seeing some of the world’s most iconic sites IRL.
But there are plenty of benefits lying just below the surface that are often even more impactful. And, as we’ve seen over and over again, one of the single biggest areas of growth for students is money management and spending on tour.
You’ll learn lessons about budgeting, personal priorities, and whether or not that irresistible impulse buy was actually worth it. EF tours are a great way for kids to get their first taste of financial responsibility without feeling overwhelmed. Check out our best tips for getting the most out of managing money while traveling with EF.
There’s lots of excitement awaiting you on tour. But, with the itinerary in hand well in advance, there are no big surprises. Which is helpful for planning purposes. Knowing where you’ll be and what you’ll see can help you plan for how much you’ll need. Maybe there’s something you know you want to buy or a food you can’t wait to try. Thinking ahead gives you a great idea of how much you’re likely to spend…and makes sure you’ll have enough for a second serving of a life-changing meal.
If that sounds a lot like a budget, well, it’s because it is. Starting with a smaller period of time can help give you an idea of what a bigger budget will feel like.
Your bank wants to keep your money safe. But if you don’t tell them you’re leaving for an epic adventure, their protective instinct could end up causing you plenty of headaches. To make sure your funds don’t get put into (temporary!) lockdown, contact your bank to let them know where and when you’ll be traveling. That way charges that happen far from home won’t get flagged as suspicious.
While you’re at it, find out if using your credit or debit card abroad comes with fees. Instead of losing valuable dollars with every swipe, you can work to minimize (or avoid) fees as much as possible.
Technology makes life simpler. And when it comes to managing money on tour, that can be music to your ears. Cash, after all, can be complicated. You’ve got to track it, carry it, and keep it safe. Mobile apps like Till Financial make things far simpler than all that. With a physical or digital debit card, the app is easy to use and safe. All while helping students take control of managing their money…with just the right amount of handholding from family and their Tour Director.
Discover how EF Explore America uses Till Financial to help students go cashless on tour and learn financial independence.
They’re up, they’re down, they’re all around. But it’s important to know how far your money goes in places you’ve never been before. When traveling abroad, most, if not all, prices will be listed in the local currency. Your brain, on the other hand, is understandably hard-wired to think about the value of a dollar. To avoid doing tricky math on the spot, write a note on your phone or a piece of paper that tells you how much one, five, ten, and twenty dollars equals. Then reference it to feel confident in what you’re about spend.
Your destination is going to be full of new things you could buy. Emphasis on could. There’s nothing wrong with a keepsake, but you don’t want your suitcase jampacked with souvenirs either. Instead of buying all the things that will remind you of your trip, lean on experiences and documentation instead. Take pictures. Write in your journal. When you buy, get something that really speaks to you. Or spend your money on food and activities that you’ll remember forever (with the help of plenty of photos).
There’s a lot of new and exciting stuff to look at on tour. Which is the reason you’re traveling in the first place. So money might not always be on your mind while exploring your destination. And pickpockets are planning for exactly that. Store your money in zippered pockets, leave extra bills and valuables in your hotel room, and stay alert, especially at big tourist destinations and on crowded streets. As long as you prep properly and stash your cash strategically, you can keep your focus on the fun stuff knowing your money is safe.
You’ll see incredible things on your EF tour and grow in incredible ways. With a little bit of planning beforehand, you can look back on it as the first time you confidently controlled your own money and took your first steps towards financial independence.